First Annual Mistletoe Market Draws 80 Vendors to Downtown Bartow
by James Coulter
Lynne Yim, a Plant City resident, makes custom ornaments year-round. Send her a photograph, any photograph, and she can create an ornament around it. She has created ornaments for pets and people alike, as well as college sports teams, cartoons, and the military.
She has fun creating her crafts over the past four years, and she makes them throughout the year; however, as can be expected, these decorations are best sold before and during the holiday season. For that reason, she attends art and craft shows in December.
She attended the Mistletoe Market in Downtown Bartow on Saturday, where her ornaments stood out among the other holiday decor showcased by other vendors, including wreaths, stockings, and plush snowmen.
“I heard it was a good market to sell to,” she said. “People are very friendly here…I am limited to when I sell my ornaments, I sell around Christmas, and I sell them anywhere. I try everywhere.”
Sherry Morris, a Bartow resident, has been making similar crafts for nearly five years. She makes portable trash cans, towels, masks, and other items from fabric. Morris started by making dresses for her family as Christmas gifts. She was inspired by her relatives to sell them, and she has been attending events such as Mistletoe Market ever since.
“I am really enjoying it,” she said. “The weather is great and the people are kind and comfortable. The people, I love them. The inspiration is the people. A lot of my fabric and things I find are what people find, and I am willing to do what people ask.”
The inagural Mistletoe Market was hosted in Downtown Bartow last Saturday. More than 80 vendors congregated downtown to sell handmade holiday wares and other assorted merchandise.As an added holiday bonus, children could also enjoy Christmas fun by eating cookies and hot cocoa, writing and mailing letters to Santa, and even visiting Mr. and Mrs. Claus themselves.
Hosted by Main Street Bartow, the downtown shopping event was hosted as a way to bring visitors and residents downtown while also inspiring Christmas spirit, especially during these uncertain times.
Earlier this year, the annual Honey Bee Festival & Craft Show was hosted, which drew in a sizeable turnout despite the current pandemic. The inagural holiday festival, aided by the overall lovely weather, likewise drew in a decent turnout, said Linda Holcomb, Executive Director.
“We [previously hosted] a fall festival,” she said. “It was the first event we were allowed to open up…It was so successful that we had people and merchants and vendors asking if we could do it again. So we decided to come back in December when it was cooler. It has been so successful; we are going to do it [again] in the spring.”
To ensure the safety and health of the vendors and attendees, booths were placed six to ten feet apart and set along the streets adjacent to Main Street rather than on Main Street itself. These precautions were taken to ensure that the event was spread out enough to provide everyone room to remain socially distant, Holcomb said.
“I think part of [the event’s success] is that people are ready to get out,” she said. “Seeing people out and about in the stores, out on the street, having a good time, socializing a bit, it has been fun watching the crowd and watching them shop.”